Shared parental leave (SPL) does not replace maternity leave or adoption leave but is an additional type of leave which both parents can take either together or instead of the other. It is taken as an alternative to maternity or adoption leave.

The total amount of SPL taken by both parents, plus any period of maternity or adoption leave taken by the mother or primary adopter, must not exceed 52 weeks. For example, a birth mother may take 16 weeks’ leave and then both parents might jointly take 18 weeks’ shared parental leave, making a total of 52 weeks’ leave. Only 39 weeks of any leave taken will be paid including any period of maternity or adoption leave; the remaining 13 weeks will be unpaid.

Additional paternity leave has been abolished now the Shared Parental Leave Regulations are in force, although the two weeks of statutory paternity leave remain.

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